How can I lose one pound a week?

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Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Every pound you'd like to shed represents roughly 3,500 calories, so if you're hoping to lose a pound a week, you need to knock off 500 calories a day. Vaporizing 250 by exercising and 250 by cutting calories from your diet is a good mix.
Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
Losing one to two pounds per week is a good steady weight loss. It may sound too slow for most people but it is the best way to get used to the small changes you are making. It will allow you to maintain your goal weight and continue your new healthy lifestyle. On average, between diet and exercise, you should obtain a deficit of 500 calories per day (3500 calories equals one pound). So what is 500 calories? It is one slice of pizza (275 cals) and one 20 oz Coke (240 cals) or one Big Mac (540 cals) (No fries or soda!) or one serving of Olive Garden's salad with dressing (350 cals) and one bread stick (150 cals)! That isn't a lot of food for 500 calories, so it is the small changes that count.

Now if you add walking into that equation, you will be well on your way to achieving your goals! Walking has been found to be the exercise of choice if you want to lose fat and only fat. A great guideline is to walk 10,000 steps per day. 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles and 500 calories burned! Most sedentary people only walk 1,000 to 3,000 steps per day. If you are sedentary, it is best to gradually increase your steps by adding 500 steps per week. Besides going out for a walk, what are some ways to increase your steps in your daily life? Park the car in the furthest parking spot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a lap around the mall before you start shopping, or go to the largest supermarket so you have more area to cover. These small efforts will make a big impact on your health in the long run.

In summary, if you decrease your food intake by 500 calories per day and also walk 10,000 steps per day you will lose up to two pounds per week. But, as we know, life gets in the way and that isn't always realistic. Just remember as long as you obtain a calorie deficient of 500 calories per day between food and exercise you will be well on your way to achieving your goals, feeling good, and being ready for the summer months!
Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine
One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. So, to lose 1 pound of fat, you must create a 3,500-calorie deficit. The easiest way to do this is to decrease your caloric intake and increase your physical activity at the same time. If you want to lose a pound per week you simply must eat 500 less calories than usual or increase your physical activity by 500 calories per day (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories = 1 pound).

By incorporating one or two of the following tips into your everyday life, you can lose 1 pound every week -- and still eat most of your favorite foods. You should not drop your caloric intake below 1200 (for women or teens) without medical supervision.
  • Exercise at a moderate intensity for 1 hour per day
  • Replace three soft drinks or juice beverages with water, brewed iced tea, or Crystal Light -- I love their pink lemonade

  • Replace fried meat with grilled meat
  • Remove skin from chicken
  • Replace a starchy side-dish with either fruits or vegetables
  • Replace ground beef with ground turkey
  • Replace a cream-based soup with a broth-based soup
  • Limit eating out to no more than once per week and when you do, choose a healthy salad with grilled meat and dressing on the side
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

One pound is 3,600 calories (kcal), so rounding down and dividing by seven days in a week, the answer is that you need reduce your daily calories by 500 kcal.

Now, if you’ve paid attention to the number of calories burned when you hop on a machine at the gym, you may think it’s impossible to burn 500 kcal per day -- and you’re probably right.

The good news is that there simply needs to be a 500 kcal deficit, so by eliminating one higher calorie habit such as that afternoon pick-me-up soda or frappuccino, you may only need to exercise off one or two hundred calories.

Look at the calories and serving size of your favorite foods and drinks. You might be shocked to see that your morning muffin counts as three servings and totals 600 kcal if you eat the whole muffin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.